Romantic Reads for Teens: A Book List for Girls and Guys

Enjoy this unapologetic list of romantic reads for teens: great love stories and high romance without LGBTQ elements. For the genre-junkies out there, it’s worth noting that the Blink Imprint books consistently deliver clean romance. Members: we’ve got this as a free printable for you! Check out the Members Printable Page for the link.

Please note: a 13-year-old may not be ready for the same sort of a book a 19-year-old will enjoy. It’s safe to say that older teens can (and will) enjoy every book on this list, but not every book is appropriate for a younger teen. Please read reviews if you are unfamiliar with a given title. Titles are linked to our reviews where applicable.

romantic reads for teens



These aren’t just for girls, although most high school girls will more willingly pick these up than their masculine peers. These focus on love interests set against a broader backdrop (mystery, social commentary, historical fiction, and more).

Anything by Jane Austen.  For what it’s worth, tough guy Andrew Klavan (whose YA thrillers we’ve reviewed) considers Austen to be the finest female novelist in any language.  Her purview was human nature, not just love.  Feel free to start with Pride and Prejudice, but do move on to Persuasion, Emma, Sense & Sensibility . . . 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  The classic gothic romance, from which all others take their inspiration, but also an intense picture of the shaping of character, with strong Chrisstian elements.

cover of the red palace

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace.  Taking up a secondary character from her famous Betsy-Tacy series, the author depicts the shaping of a young woman into a mature person able to choose confidently and love wisely. The later “Betsy” books are also great romances.

Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy Sayers.  Mystery lovers know about Lord Peter Wimsey, but there’s no rule against mixing genres, and Peter’s courtship of Harriet Vane is one of the great novelistic love stories of all time.

The Red Palace by June Hur. Eighteenth century Korea comes to life in this gripping—and gritty—historical mystery for teens. The love story may remind readers of the aforementioned Lord Peter and Harriet.

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss.  This semi-autobiographical story follows a young lady from the age of sixteen to her emergence as a woman of substance and spiritual maturity.

Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.  The first three in this series form one of our favorite series ever, with complex characters in an unfolding plot set in an imaginary place and time reminiscent of Ancient Greece. Palace intrigue takes center stage but the romantic relationships that develop are deep and satisfying. Please note that later volumes in this series add in more questionable elements; do read the reviews.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope.  Four ghosts from Revolutionary War days teach a lonely young woman about romance, in this light-hearted story that mixes guerilla warfare, espionage, and sleeping draughts in the wine.

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.  Pope’s other classic love story isn’t quite as fun as The Sherwood Ring, but it’s a gripping adventure involving elements of paganism and Christian sacrificial love.

*Swift by R. J. Anderson. A young piskey girl searches for truth as danger threatens her home and loved ones.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.  A spiteful daughter attempts to use love as revenge and ends up caught in her trap.  Loosely based on Cupid & Psyche and inspired by C S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, the story tries a little too hard but creates some memorable scenes and characters.

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl.  This fun take on the classic regency romance presents a clever heroine seeking to marry well in order to save the family estate.

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman.   There have been many contemporary take-offs on Pride and Prejudice, but this one features two winning heroines and two gentlemenly young men we’d all like our daughters to meet.

*Love and Other Great Expectations by Becky Dean. Puts romance in its place as part of life’s great adventure (but not all of it).

Entwined by Heather Dixon.  This sweet-natured and good-hearted retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” brings joy out of sorrow.

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins.  Three generations of an Indian immigrant family make a home in America and find love in the context of religious awakening.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larsen.  A young woman inherits a Montana ranch and moves west to “make good” her claim.  Romance beckons, but Hattie has things to do first.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacy Lee. The Downstairs Girl explores the social mores and prejudices of late-19th-century Atlanta through the eyes of a resourceful and gifted Chinese teen.

The Arrow and the Crown by Emma Fox. Adventure meets fairy tale in this delightful fantasy read for teens (and their parents!).

Lois Lane series by Gwenda Bond.  This YA mystery series pits teenage star reporter Lois Lane against a series of bad actors in school and work.  Her secret weapon is her online friendship with Smalltown Guy, whom she finally meets in volume 3.

Lovely War by Julie Berry. Lovely War is a satisfying romance set during WWI, but with a mythological angle, that will leave readers with much to think about.

*The Song that Moves the Sun by Anna Bright. The exploration of the nature of love—friendship and family as well as romance—is unsurpassed. It’s a noble story, beautifully written, and will reward the reader who perseveres to the end.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. About the first book, Cinder: Lovers of fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia will enjoy Marissa Meyer’s intriguing futuristic retelling of Cinderella. Note: we do not recommend Meyer’s other works.

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Beautiful sentences, memorable characters, and original elements including the powers of stories themselves make this well worth reading for fairytale lovers young and old. Please note: we do not unequivocally recommend all of Meyer’s works.

*Thorn by Intisar Khanani. The strong moral compass of the book’s characters and its well-told story make for a refreshing, deep, and engaging YA novel.


Guys are not the largest consumers of love stories, romance literature, or chick flicks.  If your teen boy is more into adventure, he can still pick up some pointers on treating women with respect and appreciation along the way from these classic (and new) reads.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  The apple-stealing, fence-painting mischief-maker of classic American boyhood holds the fair sex in high regard, especially one Becky Thatcher, who brings out his nobler instincts.

The Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan. A best-selling series for young teens set in a Medieval-esque, pseudo European world that combines adventure, heroism, villains, danger, and a touch of love.

Little Britches by Ralph Moody.  Turn-of-the-century farm life wasn’t easy, but young Ralph Moody was blessed with two excellent role models in his parents.  The first book of his memoirs focuses on his relationship with his dad, who was able to pass along permanent lessons (including treating women with respect) before his premature death.

Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter.  A prequel to A Girl of the Limberlost, this story focuses on a young man full of bravery despite a disability. Freckles exemplifies true and honorable love for a girl.

Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter.   A young man, back from WWI and battling a life-threatening illness, happens upon an old man in trouble.  The old man’s last words before collapsing are “Keep my bees.”  And so begins a tale of healing, self-discovery, and romance.

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.  A silversmith’s apprentice is taken down a peg when he suffers a debilitating injury.  The opening events of the American Revolution offer him a chance to redeem himself  . . . and in the process, he learns a lot about girls.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Howard Pyle.  They invented chivalry!

The Story of Roland by James Baldwin.  Another knightly tale of chivalry, this classic French legend from the days of Charlemagne is retold for young readers.

Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves: Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene by Roy Maynard. C. S. Lewis himself recommended that teen boys encounter Spenser’s great work! There is nothing delicate or fluffy about Spenser’s work.

MEMBERS: You can find this as a free printable on your Member Printable Resources Page!

Stay Up to Date!

Get the information you need to make wise choices about books for your children and teens.

Our weekly newsletter includes our latest reviews, related links from around the web, a featured book list, book trivia, and more. We never sell your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Support our writers and help keep Redeemed Reader ad-free by joining the Redeemed Reader Fellowship.

Stay Up to Date!

Get the information you need to make wise choices about books for your children and teens.

Our weekly newsletter includes our latest reviews, related links from around the web, a featured book list, book trivia, and more. We never sell your information. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

FREE Bible Guide!

Get a guide to the Best Bibles for Children and Teens. Perfect for an Easter gift.

Betsy Farquhar

Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Southeast.

We'd love to hear from you!

Our comments are now limited to our members (both Silver and Golden Key). Members, you just need to log in with your normal log-in credentials!

Not a member yet? You can join the Silver Key ($2.99/month) for a free 2-week trial. Cancel at any time. Find out more about membership here.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.